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  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A survey of how regional media outlets discussed the congressional impeachment process and its potential ramifications on the 2020 presidential election. Across the Middle East, the story of President Trump’s impeachment and subsequent acquittal received secondtier coverage compared to regional or local issues. Many Arabic-language websites and newspapers translated and republished Western articles as opposed to creating their own content on the issue, such as Al Jazeera publishing a translated version of a Guardian editorial. Moreover, the bulk of the articles just explained the facts or process of impeachment rather than expounding on its significance. Some celebrated the idea that there is a mechanism for peaceful removal of a leader. Most commented on the unlikelihood of Trump’s removal and how America is facing unprecedented polarization. Those articles that did offer their own editorial content were split on whether impeachment will help or hurt Trump’s election campaign. Publications in the Gulf states tended to portray impeachment as an act of “political vengeance” by Democrats against Trump, “who won despite their opposition” (Sky News Arabia). Most Gulf papers posited that Trump will ultimately benefit in the 2020 election “after proving his innocence before the Senate” (Al Seyassah). Yet Qatari coverage deviated from the general Gulf trend. For example, one Al Jazeera article asserted that the impeachment case against Trump “is simple, and established not only by officials speaking under oath, but by his own words and actions.” Egyptian newspapers were more split on how impeachment will affect the election. Anti-American outlets in Syria suggested it will hurt him, with Al Baath noting “all data indicate that Trump’s hope for a return to the White House have faded.” Lebanese publications tended to take a more neutral view. The Hezbollah-controlled newspaper Al Akhbar wrote that the prospect of impeachment weakening Trump’s electoral campaign “is similar to that of his potential main rival,” arguing that Joe Biden was also tainted by the process. Most Iranian media tended to copy Western sources, but two themes prevailed among outlets offering original content: portrayal of impeachment as a scandal that has tainted Trump’s presidential legacy, or neutral analysis of how impeachment may or may not harm his reelection chances. A few analytical pieces suggested that he might be able to transform the scandal into an asset for his campaign, since it may “lead to more popularity among the middle class.” While most Iranian articles leaned against Trump, few appeared to praise Democrats. Turkish articles generally depicted impeachment as a “gift” to Trump’s campaign. SETA, a think tank that supports President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, claimed that what “hasn’t killed Trump will make him stronger.” Sabah News, another pro-Erdogan source, wrote that impeachment will “unite Republican senators and members of the House of Representatives around him.”
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Media, News Analysis, Domestic politics, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Arab Countries, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Djavad Salehi-Isfahani
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The Islamic Republic of Iran marks its 40th anniversary this week. But, with the country beset by a severe economic crisis, the question on everyone’s lips –within Iran and the diaspora alike – seems to be whether the Islamic Revolution has actually improved Iranians’ lives.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Iran
  • Author: Meir Litvak, Emily Landau, Ephraim Kam
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: This collection contains essays analyzing the state of Iran’s nuclear program and the deterrent relationship between the United States and Iran since the nuclear agreement was presented; Iran’s relations with specific Middle East states; and dominant political and social issues within Iran, and their influence on Iran’s foreign policy.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Iran
  • Author: Gallia Lindenstrauss
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: Over the past decade, despite periodic hostile statements on the one hand and high level visits on the other, Turkey-Iran relations have experienced few surprising developments. As Hakki Uygur has argued, “The Turkish-Iranian relationship can be considered one of the most consistent and predictable sets of relations in the Middle East region.” During this time, Turkish-Iranian relations have fluctuated within a defined range whereby despite the intense competition, they never reach the point of deep crisis. However, even in the case of shared interests, the two states have not proved capable of achieving close strategic cooperation.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Iran, Turkey
  • Author: Raz Zimmt
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: Some two months after the outbreak of the most significant wave of protest in Iran since the 2009 riots, the Iranian authorities are endeavoring to bring the situation back to normal, though various pockets of protest are still discernible. While the wave of protest began to wane already a week after it broke out, demonstrations on a limited scale are ongoing in various parts of the country, mainly concerning wage withholding and the collapse of pension and saving funds. There are also some local instances of defiance against the regime, including anti-establishment graffiti in the public domain, strikes, torched banks, and defaced posters with the Supreme Leader’s picture.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Iran
  • Author: Thomas Gomart, Robin Niblett, Daniela Schwarzer, Nathalie Tocci
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), will severely degrade regional and global security. His decision has increased the risk of war and a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and beyond. He has undermined attempts to limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons through multilateral diplomacy, as unilateral withdrawal equals non-compliance with a legally-binding UN Security Council resolution. This is a rejection of the UN as arbiter of international peace and security, as well as of international law as a lynchpin of international relations. The steps that Europeans now take will have serious consequences for their alliance with the US, for security in the Middle East, as well as for their relations vis-à-vis China, Russia and the wider world.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Olivier Appert
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: The 14 July 2015 Vienna agreement on Iran’s nuclear activities (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – JCPoA) was a game changer on the geopolitics in the Middle East and for the oil market. The oil sanctions were lifted and Iran increased significantly its production and exports. On 8 May 2018, President Trump announced that the United Stated (US) would withdraw from the agreement. Financial sanctions were reintroduced. From 5 November 2018 onwards, further sanctions will be re-imposed more specifically on petroleum related transactions, including the purchase of petroleum, petroleum products and petrochemical products. What could be the impact of this new embargo? Is there a risk of a new oil supply and price shock?
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Oil, Treaties and Agreements, Sanctions, Global Markets
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Richard Nephew
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Center on Global Energy Policy
  • Abstract: The president’s recent statement that OPEC should reduce their prices may merely be an attempt to assign blame for rising gasoline prices in the midst of the US driving season or an even more cynical attempt to rally his political base in opposition to globalism. Or, it may have something to do with the president’s own decision to create a crisis with Iran. While attention is duly paid to how much Americans have to pay at the pump, a more subtle and complicated story will soon play out with respect to Iran and the reapplication of US sanctions ordered by Trump on May 8, 2018. In fact, unless oil prices are contained, the primary result of the president’s action may be to ensure that Iran profits from the oil market risks that sanctions have created.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Geopolitics, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: America, Iran, Global Focus
  • Author: Fariba Abdelkhah
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre d'Etudes et de Recherches Internationales
  • Abstract: Elections have been trivialized in Iran. They allow for the expression of diversity, in particular ethnical and denominational, of historical regional identities, and prove the growing professionalization of political life. Paradoxically, such professionalization withdraws the Republic away into the levels of family, parenthood, autochthony, and even neighborhoods or devotional sociability, which are all institutions that instill a feeling of proximity, solidarity, communion; close to the notion of asabiyat. As the saying goes, the Islamic Republic has become a « parentocracy » (tâyefehsâlâri). The country’s industrial development isn’t at odds with such ponderousness since it lies on a web of very small family businesses. The analysis of the 2016 legislative elections in four wards reveals how important the issue of property is in political life, indivisible as it is of the various particularistic consciences. The connections with notables are still there, revealing lines of continuity with the old regime as well as longstanding agrarian conflicts that have not been erased by the Revolution and that are being kept alive through contemporary elections.
  • Topic: Democratization, Politics, Sociology, Governance, Elections, Borders, Networks, Identities
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Simon Palamar
  • Publication Date: 10-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: In July 2015, the Islamic Republic of Iran, along with China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union, signed on to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), an agreement in which Iran would put substantial and verifiable limits on its nuclear science and engineering activities in exchange for sanctions relief. Many observers hailed the agreement as an important — if imperfect — tool for keeping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Former US President Barack Obama argued that “the United States, our partners, and the world are more secure because of the JCPOA.”
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Iran